April 17, 2014

May 8, 201212:14 PMTable Talk

Sneak Peek: Quench aims to satisfy Rockville’s thirst

May 8, 2012 - 12:14 PM
Sneak Peek: Quench aims to satisfy Rockville’s thirst

Photo by Emma Patti

As a teenager attending Thomas S. Wootton High School, Michael Holstein worked at a lot of restaurants in Montgomery County—among them, TGI Friday’s on Rockville Pike, Nantucket Landing in Bethesda, and whatever The Box Bar and Grill on Old Georgetown Road was called back then.

Now that Holstein, 40, is grown up and living in North Potomac, he’s the associate general counsel at WETA, and has recently started his own production company.

But he still has the restaurant bug in him, and says that his frequent business trips to Los Angeles made him realize what this area was missing—a “cool, urban” place for adults to go for a drink after a movie, but in the suburbs.

That’s the inspiration behind Quench, a restaurant and watering hole Holstein is opening on May 22 in the former Beale Street Grill on Traville Gateway in Rockville.

There’s already a lot of buzz about the place, thanks to the high-profile team Holstein has assembled, plus his social media expertise. (The restaurant will also be featured in an online Food Channel show called “Raising the Bar.”)

Executive chef Richard Gunter, who formerly cooked at Buck’s Fishing & Camping, Charlie Palmer’s Steak and Alexandria’s Restaurant Eve, has come up with an innovative menu—nibbles include latkes and popcorn with curried peanuts and sea salt caramel glaze, and desserts feature homemade marshmallows and a house-made “Twinkie” of the day. There is also an appealing-sounding collection of salads (melon panzanella), sandwiches (Chesapeake crab roll) and main courses (roasted shrimp ratatouille).

Speaking about the menu, Gunter said, “I wanted it to be playful and whimsical. We end up taking ourselves too seriously.”

Similarly fun is the drink menu, developed by “chief cocktail officer” Steve Oshana, a self-described non-drinker with an impressive mixology background (Elisir by Enzio Fargione, Quill Bar in the Jefferson Hotel, and more).

Cocktails include Sex in the Suburbs (chili-infused hibiscus vodka, cranberry, lime, prosecco) and Metro-Textural (Johnny Walker Black, Plymouth sloe gin, lemon juice, Orgeat, egg white), and there are also spiked coffee drinks, under 100-calorie cocktails, mocktails, and a drink menu for kids (raspberry frappe, Shirley Temple and bubblegum lemonade), who will be welcome for lunch and dinner.

Holstein formed a Quench Advisory Board, which has already met a few times, and will continue to provide input after the restaurant opens. Comprised of about 30 people—future patrons, friends, foodies, local business owners, plus Holstein’s two young children—the “focus group” gives advice about the menu, décor and more. Suggestions already incorporated: add more gluten-free items, bourbon drinks, and a veggie burger.

Holstein also wants to hold a Food Truck Friday, at which food trucks could set up shop in the restaurant’s parking lot. The attention, he hopes, will generate interest in Quench.

As for the space, it seats 70 inside and 25 on the patio, and it’s nothing fancy; in fact, it’s a bit of mishmash—tree stumps serve as cocktail tables, the dining tables are from Pottery Barn, the bar stools from overstock.com, and the “decorative wall art” includes a display of gold-plated egg shells.

One more thing: There’s no children’s menu, but the menu notes that the kitchen will serve any item in a kid-size portion, make it more accommodating to young palates, or cook up whatever they want. However, if your kid likes foie gras, says Holstein, you’re probably out of luck.

9712 Traville Gateway, Rockville, www.quenchnation.com

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Welcome to Table Talk, the blog version of the column in Bethesda Magazine. Be one of the first to find out about new restaurants and food shops, and join in the lively discussion about first bites, snipes and recommendations.

Before becoming Food Editor of Bethesda Magazine, Carole Sugarman was an award-winning food reporter for The Washington Post for 20 years. She has also written for national food magazines and a food policy newsletter, as well as judged cookbook and cooking contests. She lives in Chevy Chase where she eats PB&J for lunch when she’s not working.

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